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Ofcom - where would we be without them? (Read 8,025 times)
omy
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Ofcom - where would we be without them?
Oct 9th, 2004 at 1:48pm
 
I have received a reply from Ofcom, about a complaint I made regarding 0870/0845 numbers.  Parts of the reply would be funny, if not so sad.
Here is a sample:-

The past few years have seen the UK go through phone number changes designed to allow meaningful tariff information to be conveyed to the caller through the first few digits of a phone no.  Accordingly, numbers in the 0845 range are priced at BT's headline local rate before discounts but are subject to some reductions under BT's Together options although not to the same extent as geographic calls.  Similarly,  numbers in the 0870 range are priced at BT's headline national rate, but are no longer known as national.
Ofcom is aware that an increasing number of 'services' which do not require revenue from calls are starting to use non-geographic numbers, Ofcom itself being a case in point.  In these cases it may be the service provider genuinely believes they are making it easy for callers........  Many service providers are unaware it can cost more to ring NTS than geographic numbers.



This seems to imply that Ofcom thinks companies don't realise 0870 costs MORE - how naive can Ofcom be?  If they are supposed to be the 'watchdog' what chance have we got?
This reply was from a Director, Chief Executives Office.
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« Last Edit: Oct 9th, 2004 at 1:49pm by omy »  
 
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Dave
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Re: Ofcom - where would we be without them?
Reply #1 - Oct 9th, 2004 at 5:14pm
 
Quote:
The past few years have seen the UK go through phone number changes designed to allow meaningful tariff information to be conveyed to the caller through the first few digits of a phone no.  Accordingly, numbers in the 0845 range are priced at BT's headline local rate before discounts but are subject to some reductions under BT's Together options although not to the same extent as geographic calls.  Similarly,  numbers in the 0870 range are priced at BT's headline national rate, but are no longer known as national.

How can Ofcom allow these numbers to be connected to the rates on the monopoly's tariff and, paradoxically, break up this monopoly? ???

Quote:
Ofcom is aware that an increasing number of 'services' which do not require revenue from calls are starting to use non-geographic numbers, Ofcom itself being a case in point.  In these cases it may be the service provider genuinely believes they are making it easy for callers........  Many service providers are unaware it can cost more to ring NTS than geographic numbers.

How about putting this to Ofcom as a ground breaking theory: The reason service providers (ie insurance companies, banks and other services) [supposedly] 'believe' it costs no more to call NGNs is because of the misleading spin in the information provided by NGN providers.

How many services don't 'require' [Ofcom's definition, not mine] extra revenue? Some more rocket science: If NGN providers don't pay service providers for using them then the money must go somewhere. Also, how can one provider's 0870 number who doesn't give revenue be cheaper to call than the provider who does give revenue? Are Ofcom trying to suggest that the people running businesses are that simple?

Putting the financial issue asside for a moment, there are surely practical advantages to NGNs. These being routing to various locations/numbers when busy or depending on the location of the caller etc. However, Ofcom has not created such a number range which is charged at normal geographical rates, being free when on inclusive call packages.
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Re: Ofcom - where would we be without them?
Reply #2 - Oct 17th, 2004 at 7:43pm
 
Saynoto0870 gets a mention on the Ofcom site on the NTS focus group meeting notes and action page (03/06/04).

Quote:
Q       Karen Hardy asked if Ofcom was planning to compare consumer understanding for geo and non-geo pricing?
A       Ofcom said that no such research was currently planned, although Ofcom acknowledged that this would be a useful exercise and should serve to highlight issues which are specific to NTS.

Geoff Brighton mentioned that a number of consumers had responded to the 0845/0870 consultation highlighting a range of issues (eg. www.saynoto0870.co.uk/)

So that suggests that Ofcom's consultation on these numbers hasn't looked at the issues of pricing and confusion over differences in geographical and non-geographical numbers from consumers' point of view. It sounds to me as though they do their investigations with blinkers on!  Lips Sealed

Interestingly, the list at the top shows that representatives from some communications companies attend. Now it becomes obvious how these companies can sway Ofcom's opinions and decisions away from the interests of the consumer.
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« Last Edit: Oct 17th, 2004 at 7:57pm by Dave »  
 
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dorf
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Re: Ofcom - where would we be without them?
Reply #3 - Oct 18th, 2004 at 2:01am
 
Yes, but Dave,

Did you notice BTs admission hidden in their statements in this meeting?:

".........
Q      Colin Scott asked what scope operators would have for seeking retrospection on the impact of NCCN 500 (following the conclusion of the NTS Framework re-examination and the submission of a further Competition Act complaint).
A      Caroline Wallace said that if there were a breach of the Competition Act, this would date from the pricing change, not the date of the conclusion of the framework re-examination. Operators were therefore free to submit a Competition Act complaint on NCCN 500 after the conclusion of the framework re-examination.

A discussion on the issues then followed. Colin Annette said that BT wasn’t wishing to jeopardise the future of the UK NTS market as this accounted for between a quarter and one third of switched revenues for BT. Colin said he was in the process of putting indicative pricing through an internal pricing board and it was his intention to issue a bi-lateral pricing ‘offer’ to operators. This offer would not be contractual, instead BT would look for operator feedback on a bi-lateral basis.

Caroline Wallace said that she could see the value in BT issuing pricing bi-laterally and Ofcom would be interested in seeing operator feedback. Colin Annette suggested that the feedback be copied to Ofcom. Caroline said that it appeared to Ofcom that Ofcom intervention would be required to implement NTS Futures type arrangements. ....."

This statement supports what I have claimed previously, that BT introduced Revenue Sharing on NGNs other than 09, as part of a very deliberate strategy, then persuading as many organisations as possible to change their telephone numbers to those such as 0870, 0871 etc. The principal reasons for this strategy were that queueing was not prohibited with NGNs other than 09, which made them more attractive to organisations wishing to exploit their customers; and that it was a deliberate gambit to prevent free competition, since with the premiums to be paid the new entrants to the market (their competitors) would not be able to undercut them by much with these numbers.

The considerations of the Competition Act discussed here and their specific statement here that about 1/3rd of their "switched revenue" (that is revenue from call traffic carried by them) is now for non 09 NGNs (implied) shows just how successful they have been in getting organisations to change over to using these wretched rip-off numbers, and worst of all enticing consumers to call them!
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Ofcom are completely ineffectual
 
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Re: Ofcom - where would we be without them?
Reply #4 - Oct 29th, 2004 at 11:20pm
 
As dorf says, other telcos cannot undercut BT on 0845/0870 pricing due to the premiums being paid. Additionally, they negate the benefits of reduced and unlimited packages allowing telcos to create a smokescreen that call costs are going down. It's a marketing exercise where the balloon is squashed at one end.

I have received a reply from the DVLA about 0870s which goes on about the benefits, something which I mentioned in my email to them! Before I received the reply they said that they would have to contact BT regarding the issues. The final reply looks much like a cut and paste from BT's publicity material. The management at BT seem to put marketing spin at the top of their agenda.
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